Unexpected leader in electric vehicles
It’s not often that local authorities are credited with being at the forefront of new technology. But when it comes to environmental sustainability, many are leading the way.
Take the uptake of ultra-low-emission vehicles, for example. A recent survey has found that more than a third of UK councils now operate an electric vehicle (EV). The average is 3.96 EVs per council, with Dundee topping the bill with a sizeable fleet of 39.
Range of 100 miles
Of course, if you work for a local authority, the chances are you travel locally for your job, so range is unlikely to be an issue. But EVs can typically run for 100 miles between charges and with a growing national charging network, ‘refueling’ on the go is becoming less of a problem.
My colleagues in the npower e-mobility team have recently installed their first electric vehicle rapid charging point for Sheffield at the Meadowhall Shopping Centre. This can charge an electric vehicle to 80% in as little as 20 minutes.
Incentives for business
Sheffield is one of four South Yorkshire authorities taking a closer interest in the benefits of EVs. As part of the Inmotion! scheme in partnership with npower, eligible local businesses can qualify for a subsidised lease on a plug-in vehicle and a workplace charging point (see evinmotion.co.uk for details).
In supporting a greater uptake of EVs, South Yorkshire’s aim is three fold:
- To see local businesses grow in a sustainable manner and cut their operating costs
- To help reduce carbon emissions that lead to climate change
- To improve the air quality in all four South Yorkshire councils (Sheffield, Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley)
Most metropolitan authorities have improving air quality on their agenda. None more so than London, which along with Manchester, Merseyside and Glasgow, among others, faces huge EU fines for breaching UK pollution levels.
Diesel no longer the low-carbon darling
In a bid to cut pollution in the capital, London Major Boris Johnson has already proposed that drivers of diesel vehicles pay an additional £10 surcharge on top of the London Congestion Charge from 2020.
Yet a decade ago, drivers were being encouraged to switch to diesel, with tax breaks to encourage sales of this more fuel-efficient option. This saw numbers swell from 1.6 million to almost 11 million diesel vehicles on British roads today.
Now it’s diesel’s higher nitrogen dioxide emissions – rather than lower carbon emissions – that have become the focus, with increasing concerns over the level of premature deaths this pollutant causes.
It certainly looks as though diesel has had its day. But will motorists start turning to EVs as the genuine environmentally-friendly alternative?
£2 running costs for 80 miles
While there’s no doubt EVs are far cheaper to run – around £2 per 80 miles – the recent dive in petrol prices may curtail the four-fold increase in sales recorded last year. Almost 52,000 new alternatively-fuelled vehicles – which includes petrol/EV hybrids – were registered in 2014.
But as more and more manufacturers add EVs to their range, and as battery technology becomes cheaper and more efficient, it won’t just be local authorities enjoying the benefits of EV fleets.
Businesses are already taking an interest (call 0800 294 3568 to find out how we can help). And as charging infrastructure continues to expand, more consumers will also start to see EVs as a viable alternative. Perhaps even more so if they currently drive a diesel…
Wayne Mitchell is Director of Markets & Innovation for npower Business Solutions
This is a sponsored article.